Masquerade of Lies was an intriguing young adult thriller novel that kept me interested and invested right through to the end. While there were a few significant issues I had with this novel, namely to do with its believability and dark themes, the overall opinion I have of this book is that it was brimming with potential.
The story follows Hanna, a young woman with a history of mental illness starting afresh in a new town and school. The inclusion of dramatic side characters kept this story interesting and helped to alleviate the much darker, and unexpected depths, this story took.
Trigger warnings: death, suicide, attempted rape, self-mutilation, mental illness, verbal abuse.
I had not been expecting so many dark themes in this book, which were more often than not just shoved upon the reader with very little prior warning. While this had a shock and impact factor, it did have a hint of manipulation toward the reader. Some dark events should be presented as a shocking twist but certainly not all of them and definitely not without some prior warning in the synopsis. As is, this book has a very high potential to trigger people unexpectedly on some really dark themes. While some elements seemed necessary, a few felt like a cheap play for impact only and their repercussions, which should have been severe, were merely glossed over.
The drama within the book reminded me a little of the Vampire Diaries. Not in fantastical elements but in the way the teens seemed overly mature, yet continued to make incredibly immature decisions. While this can be mostly believable in some cases, there needs to be a significant portion of the writing devoted to developing the characters and setting to accomodate such a heavy plot in a young group of people. That wasn’t the case in this novel.
Instead, Masquerade of Lies proceeded to ‘show not tell’ the story, effectively making the teen drama come across as overdone and highly immature. More development of setting and characters to meet the darker themes of this book was necessary. Alternatively, an older age group and setting would have been more appropriate, such as making this a New Adult thriller as opposed to a Young Adult.
Overall, the story was still very interesting and I read this all in one sitting. It had good suspense and I wasn’t able to guess the killer until the end. While this had the makings of a good book, in the end I wasn’t able to overlook the badly executed dark themes and lack of necessary setting and character development to give it more than two stars.